Case law updates

Cleaners win Unfair Dismissal claim due procedural unfairness by employer

A Tribunal has found that two cleaners were unfairly dismissed when the allegations of rude and abusive behaviour towards colleagues and clients were not  conducted in a “procedurally fair manner”.

The two women, sisters, had worked for Direct Cleaning Services SW Ltd  since 2016  when in 2020 the company received a complaint from a client about their performance. Following a site visit by a manager matter of performance, timekeeping and uniform were discussed. They were asked to call their manager from a landline on arrival and departure as a way of clocking in and out. Both the manager and the cleaners alleged the other party was rude and “kept speaking over them” during this exchange.

A further complaint from the client about rudeness and confrontational behaviour  followed and the same day they were suspended on full pay and ordered not to  return to work pending further investigations of multiple allegations of gross misconduct.  No details of the allegations were provided – despite requests – and they were not given a copy of the client’s complaint.

While the company claimed that there was an investigation the tribunal found that no meeting had taken place with the pair to hear their side of the events and they were not provided with any record of the account of the alleged events. They then  received a follow up letter from the company confirming their dismissal “following further investigations”. It outlined that the previously stated allegations amounted to gross misconduct and the pair had not provided a defence to the claims.  Three days later, they protested to the company on the grounds that they had never been informed of the precise allegations and could not therefore respond to them.

The Tribunal found that there was no independent appeal manager, no appeal meeting and no written response to this letter”, and there was no evidence presented to support the alleged “poor timekeeping and failure to complete contracted hours”, which were cited in the letter of termination. It concluded that “there was no gross misconduct which justified a summary dismissal”, citing the fact that the claimants “were not told what the factual basis for the alleged misconduct was”, along with the lack of meetings with the pair “to hear their side of the events”. Moreover, “The appeal was not dealt with impartially by a manager who had previously not been involved”.

The tribunal awarded £4,534.50 to each cleaner in compensation for unfair and wrong dismissal.